BMO: Languid vaccine roll-out threatens Canada's economic recovery

Canada's current inoculation rate is significantly lower than that of other developed economies

BMO: Languid vaccine roll-out threatens Canada's economic recovery

The markedly slow pace of Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine deployment poses a significant risk to the nation’s economic recovery, according to the Bank of Montreal.

The Toronto-based bank estimated that as of January 04, only around 0.32% of Canadians have been inoculated. This was considerably lower than the rate seen in other developed economies like the United States and the United Kingdom, which had already administered vaccines to roughly 1.4% of their respective populations.

Doug Porter, chief economist at BMO, said that while it’s early in the vaccination process, still barely a month old, the trend is a worrying one.

“Some of the sluggish pace may simply reflect teething pains that might get smoothed in the weeks ahead,” Porter said. “If not, current robust expectations for activity later this year may soon see some serious scaling back.”

So far, Canada has given approximately 40,000 vaccine shots per week. BMO said that this will have to be accelerated to 550,000 doses per week for the federal government to reach its pledge of inoculating 60% of the population by September.

Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem made similar warnings recently, saying that despite the vaccinations, the gradually recovering national economy could slow down again in the wake of the second wave of infections.

“Near term, rising COVID-19 infections will dampen growth and could even deepen our economic hole… I don’t want to downplay these difficulties,” Macklem said. “So far, household spending has led the way. But for the economy to fully recover, it needs to be firing on more than one cylinder.”